By STEPHEN HAWKINS
SAN ANTONIO — Cowboys rookie receiver Dez Bryant could miss the rest of training camp after the first-round draft pick suffered a high right ankle sprain near the end of practice Friday. The team said he will be out four to six weeks.
Bryant became entangled with cornerback Orlando Scandrick while trying to catch a pass that was thrown behind him on the next-to-last play of the day. It quickly became apparent that something was wrong.
Bryant didn't immediately get up, and when he finally did gingerly get to his feet while taking his helmet off, he took only a step before falling back to the turf. Bryant was reaching for his ankle and grimacing in obvious pain. Two trainers who checked on him helped him off the field.
Though the Cowboys have an extended camp with five preseason games because of their game in Canton, Ohio, next weekend, the injury could keep Bryant from playing until the regular season. The last preseason game is at home Sept. 2, which is five weeks away. The season opener is Sept. 12 at Washington.
After Bryant had been evaluated by doctors, the team announced in a camp update more than two hours after practice that he would be out the extended time.
Scandrick said right after practice that he initially thought Bryant was OK because the receiver "started to get up."
While Scandrick then said Bryant had tweaked an ankle a couple of days ago, coach Wade Phillips said the rookie receiver wasn't being bothered by any ankle issues before practice Friday.
Phillips said Scandrick did nothing wrong on the play that Bryant got hurt on while trying to catch a pass from backup quarterback Jon Kitna.
"(Scandrick) made a play on the ball. That's what we expect," Phillips said. "The ball was thrown behind the guy."
The Cowboys have two practices scheduled Saturday and two more Sunday, a week before their preseason opener against Cincinnati as part of Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend.
Bryant impressed on the field the first seven days of training camp, making routine and spectacular catches in individual and team drills. He has also has been returning kicks, but now will get an unwanted break.
Dallas was already without the other of its top three draft picks.
Linebacker Sean Lee, the second-round pick, has been out the past few days with a quadriceps strain but hopes to return this weekend. Safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, the fourth-round pick, hasn't practiced at camp because of a hamstring injury while coming back from offseason shoulder surgery.
"You don't like to see them out. If it happens, you have to deal with it," Phillips said.
"The rest of the receivers, we've got to step up," receiver Patrick Crayton said about Bryant's injury even before the extent of it was known. "You never want any teammate, especially a receiver, to get hurt."
Crayton was given permission to seek a trade and then skipped most voluntary offseason workouts after the Cowboys drafted Bryant 24th overall in April. But Crayton was at all mandatory workouts this summer and has worked hard as always during camp.
Bryant was limited to only three games at Oklahoma State last season because of his NCAA suspension for lying to investigators about a meeting with former Cowboys star Deion Sanders. But Dallas traded up three spots to get Bryant.
Before getting hurt during the 10th practice session, everything had been good on the field for Bryant during camp.
"We do have an extra week, which (Bryant) has taken advantage of, being here and learning all those things," Phillips said. "He's actually done real well as far as assignments are concerned."
The only hiccup at camp had been Bryant's refusal to carry veteran teammate Roy Williams' shoulder pads after practice last Sunday. Bryant said then that he was drafted to play football and not carry another player's gear.
But two days later, after the story spread quickly and widely, Bryant said he was unaware of the rookie ritual and that everything was OK with Williams and the rest of his teammates. Bryant said had no problem with another rookie ritual of paying for meals.
Bryant arrived before the start of training camp after becoming the first of the NFL's first-round picks to agree to a contract. He got a five-year deal that guarantees him at least $8.3 million.